New Report: Greater Dandenong Area in Melbourne Could Be The Unhappiest Place


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People are afraid to go out after dark, they are not fully satisfied with their lives and are unhealthy. Welcome to what could be the worst place in Melbourne.

According to the recently released 2015 VicHealth Indicators Survey, those in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs in the Greater Dandenong area, have it worse than anywhere else.

The report found those around Noble Park, Keysborough, Springvale and Dandenong did not feel safe walking after dark, with nearly two out of three people were too scared to leave the house.

The majority of Greater Dandenong residents are also less satisfied with their lives than everybody else around the city, according to the report.

Greater Dandenong Mayor, Jim Memeti told the area had it’s “challenges” but that the council was aiming to “help improve the health and wellbeing of our local residents”.

The Apex Gang could be the reason more Greater Dandenong residents are in fear of venturing out after dark. The gang formed in Apex Street in Dandenong North and started wreaking havoc through the city this year.

Only part of Dandenong North is in the Greater Dandenong area, but problems in the area still spread to nearby suburbs. The area has become a breeding ground for violent young criminals, who have been terrorising Melbourne with home invasions and carjackings. The gang has been blamed for a recent spike in crime in Melbourne’s southeastern suburbs.

A Salvation Army officer with knowledge of the gangs told some of the members were as young as 12 and predominantly hailed from eastern Africa, the Middle East and the South Pacific. A Dandenong South resident told the Leader earlier this year it was scary knowing the Apex gang was out there. “Knowing the main leader grew up just down (the street) is sort of scary,” she said. “It’s the sort of trouble we don’t need.”

The report found those in Greater Dandenong were not the healthiest in the state either. Residents are not as active as the rest of the state and only a small portion of the population exercised four or more days a week. They are also munching on less vegetables than other people in the state.

The VicHealth report found those who drank alcohol in Greater Dandenong would often consume more than five drinks in a sitting and were at risk of short-term harm from their alcohol consumption. Just over one in five residents thought getting drunk every now and then was OK.

VicHealth’s Knowledge and Health Equity Manager Annemarie Wright told the Leader disadvantage led to poorer wellbeing for certain groups. “This affects individual council areas and communities in different ways,” Dr Wright said. “Everyone should have fair and equal opportunities to reach their full health potential and additional support for people experiencing disadvantage is needed to close the gap.” The VicHealth Indicators Survey is held every four years, with more than 22,000 people across Victoria participating.

Overall, alcohol was a significant cause of illness and death across the state. “A substantial proportion of Victorians are drinking at levels that place them at risk of harm,” the report said. “The survey shows that 40.1 per cent of males and 19.1 per cent of females aged 18 and over are at risk of short-term harm related to their alcohol consumption each month.

“Short-term harm from alcohol includes acute toxicity, self-injury, road traffic accidents and significant harm to others.” Those aged between 18 and 24 are at highest risk of short-term injury and every month, half of young males and two in five females will drink more than five drinks on a single occasion.

Mayor Memeti told Greater Dandenong was a, “wonderful city of opportunity,” that prided itself on being an multicultural community with bustling shopping precincts, entertainment options, a thriving manufacturing and business sector with a strong employment base, plus extensive government and private investment revitalising the area’s city centres.

“Greater Dandenong actually performed very similar or better than the Victorian average in more than half of the indicators measured in VicHealth’s 2015 survey,” he said. “Like any other area we have our challenges, but what’s now important is that we use this data to help improve the health and wellbeing of our local residents.”

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